Ages ago I talked about where my ideas come from. Then, during the #writingchat twitter event (which runs every Wednesday, 8pm – 9pm GMT, joins us!) we all talked about the same. And what we do with our ideas. What makes a good one.
I thought I spend a lot of time watching people and picking up habits, traits, expressions and mannerisms. But I don’t. I tend to gloss over all that stuff and get ideas from what people say and do. The mother in the park sobbing while her son plays on the swings. The man in the coffee shop with two laptops open in front of him and a very posh looking headset slung across his ears. The arm broken off what was probably a Barbie lying in the gutter at the end of my street. New buds unfurling on the branches of every single tree and bush I pass. The wall plaque of a butterfly with one wing broken off that I saw at the zoo yesterday. All these things fill me with ‘what if’, ‘how did that’ and ‘I wonder why’ questions.
It’s these questions that make stories as far as I’m concerned.
But not every idea is a good one. We all know that, right? Not every idea has enough meat on it to form a novel or even a novella. Some can stretch no further than the 100 words
required recommended for micro flash.
Even the idea for this post doesn’t take me too much further than the next few paragraphs. :p
Some ideas are great and can be used to create fantastic stories. Others are not. But that doesn’t mean they should be tossed or forgotten. Every idea, good or bad, large or small, should (in my opinion) be kept because you never know when it, or parts of it can be used later.
And this is where the Ideas Bin comes in. I have a folder somewhere in my Dropbox called The Dumping Ground. This is where I put all my ideas, broken snippets and fragments of thoughts that I know I can’t use. But it’s only in that moment I can’t use them. I know full well that trawling through that folder later will give me just the missing ingredients I’ve been looking for to complete a story or generate completely new ones. And that’s important.
I’m a firm believer in ‘nothing should be wasted’ (you should see me when the boys don’t finish their dinner – out comes the foil, cling film and Tupperware!). Ideas are the same. Granted, they’re easy to generate (with practice) and there are thousands of them floating around, waiting to be plucked from the air, but why waste them? Why let them go when you never know what use you may have for them later.
Do you have an ideas bin? Or something similar? How do you generate ideas for your stories and what do you do with the ones that don’t speak to you?